Simply put, a brand is the promise you're making to your customer. When someone thinks about your brand, how do they feel, and what can they expect to experience? You create a strong brand by deciding on your brand personality, aligning your brand elements, then delivering on that promise with consistent actions that support your brand personality.
Today we'll discuss how to decide which brand personality works for your business and we'll explore strong examples of each. If you want to know more about brand consistency, and how to communicate the importance throughout your company, check out my brand consistency blog.
The Five Dimensions of a Brand Personality
The strongest brands create a sense of belonging for their customers. As Seth Godin states in his book Tribes, “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.” People like us, do things like this - is how you want your customers to identify with your brand. You do this in the same way you would with a person - elicit an emotional response.
Jennifer Aaker created a framework for analyzing and identifying five dimensions of a brand in The Five Dimensions of Brand Personality. She uses this model to describe the profile of a brand by using the analogy of a human being, and assessing how much of each dimension a brand portrays. The five dimensions are: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness. It's best to choose one main personality dimension to focus on for your brand, even if you might convey several.
Which dimension best describes your brand? Do your visual brand elements convey this feeling? What about your actions, products, and business processes. The personality you're developing should match the feelings and reactions of your customers. Let's look at an example of each dimension to see these concepts in action.
What do you feel when you think about these brands? Usually with a strong, classic, sincere brand, you'll recall a heartwarming memory. When woman think of Dove, they think of the idea of simplicity, and appreciating their natural beauty - or being down to earth. These well-established brands consistently make consumers feel cared about and considered. They're reliable and predictable just like a sincere friend. They take time and consistency to build properly.
Unpredictability can be exciting right? Tesla has that covered with their passion for disrupting industries and challenging our notion of what is possible. Exciting brands tend to give you a feeling of a lifestyle you crave. The long list of celebrities that have worked with Nike draw you in to join their tribe of confident athletes. Loyal Tik Tok users feel a sense of togetherness as they share the most exciting moments of their lives with the world. These brands say people like us live open, extroverted lives. They are confident, smart, and like a challenge.
Think of the smart person you know, the one you go to for advice and you can trust the validity of their opinions. Do you sell a highly technical product, or service? This could be the brand personality for you. If the product you provide is contingent upon high levels of consistency, safety, or reliability, then you'll want to convey competence very clearly. Choose simple and strong images, fonts, and colors, but above all, lead with your actions to build confidence in your product or service. This will help your customers identify your brand as the most competent among the competition.
These well-established brands sell a lifestyle in the same way that exciting brands do. When you see that Tiffany Blue box and white satin bow, you know you're getting timeless style, quality, and the high of being part of an elite club. The elite club and lifestyle of the sophisticated brand says people like us are rich, have impeccable taste, and are almost untouchable. For many people the brands are a status symbol that says I've made it, I deserve respect -and people are willing to pay a lot for that feeling.
Developing a sophisticated brand is similar in difficulty to developing a competent brand. You must provide quality products and spend more on quality branding and marketing for every touchpoint with your customer. It's not enough to have a great product, you're selling that luxury lifestyle and one of a kind experience, so make sure everything matches the highest level of expectations.
This final brand personality dimension often has the strongest loyalty. Generally people that buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle are part of that tribe for life. They will always buy Harleys and have all the matching gear and merchandise. Jeep sells you the sense of belonging in the Jeep club with your Jeep owner to Jeep owner wave, the friendly competition of upgrades and kits to express your style and personality with your Jeep. Wrangler has long been known for a rustic, hardworking cowboy type, and elicits the same values in their product since they are quality jeans made to be worked in. Now the brand has spread into a mainstream lifestyle, but that doesn't mean the person that wears them doesn't feel like they identify with a hardworking, honest, urban cowboy. Being a customer to a rugged brand means you're striving to belong to a group that identifies as masculine, tough, and adventurous.
Now that we've reviewed theses examples, do you know which brand personality dimension your company represents? Remember that it could be more than one, but in order to really focus in on creating that clear message and sense of belonging to your tribe, you'll want to choose one.
The next step is to make sure you do an inventory of your brand elements and ensure they align with this personality dimension. For example, if your brand is rugged and appeals to a masculine audience, you won't want to use light pastel colors and cursive fonts or you'll confuse your audience. I go into more detail about brand consistency, and include a handy guide in my brand consistency blog. I've included a list of basic questions to start with as your begin to develop your brand and think about your ideal audience.
I hope this helps you in your business journey to develop a strong brand with loyal customers that reflects your values. If you need help with creating a brand or rebranding your business, feel free to contact me, and checkout my brand design page.